Kitchen Cart Buying Guide

Kitchen Carts 101

Kitchencarts, also called kitchen islands, are an easy and affordable way to expand your kitchen’s work surface and storage space. They can be as practical and stylish as built-in kitchen islands but the added mobility allows you to reconfigure your kitchen according to your changing needs. When choosing a kitchen island, the most important consideration is the available floor space between cabinets and appliances in the middle of your kitchen. If you pick an island that’s too large, you’ll end up squeezing past it or bumping into it. Pick one that’s too small, and it may not be reachable when you pull ingredients from the fridge. Find several islands you like, then tape their dimensions to your kitchen floor. Practice moving around the tape marks for a week or so to determine which the size works best. These versatile, multifunctional utility carts can be used outside the kitchen as well, for serving drinks to party guests or delivering breakfast in bed.

Kitchen Cart Organization Tips:

  • Keep large pots, pans and appliances stacked at the bottom of the cart to maximize storage and safety
  • Store silverware and utensils in drawers with cutlery holders in place to keep everything organized
  • Use built-in racks, rails and hooks to keep essential tools at the ready
  • Add cabinet dividers to separate cutting boards, cake pans and lids
  • Install sliding metal baskets for easy access to stored items

Kitchen Cart Features

Shape and Size +

If you’re dreaming of a kitchen island but don't have the space, consider a mobile kitchen cart instead. Make sure your cart is sized to fit your kitchen, leaving enough room to walk around and at least two feet of clearance to open any drawers or cabinets. If your kitchen is short of built-in storage capacity, your kitchen cart can hold the overflow of pots and pans. Some models even have drawers for cutlery and other small kitchen essentials. If your kitchen is larger,you can tailor your cart to meet specific needs. For example, it could hold a wine rack for entertaining or a butcher block for food prep. If your kitchen is small, consider a square or narrow cart instead of a big rectangular one and look for open shelving over cabinets and drawers.

Surface +

Kitchen carts come with a variety of work surfaces, from wood and stainless steel to tile and granite. If food prep is a priority, a thick butcher block will provide the best cutting surface, but be sure to maintain it according to the manufacturer's instructions to prevent warping. If baking is your thing, a marble or granite surface is best for rolling doughs and fondants. If you want a heavy-duty work surface, stainless steel offers durability, versatility and heat resistance for setting down pots and pans. But keep in mind that it can’t be used for cutting.

Decor +

A fashionable kitchen cart can give your kitchen a fresh, new look without the hassle and cost of renovating. When selecting a kitchen cart, consider the style of your kitchen, countertop and appliances to ensure that it complements the existing decor. If your kitchen is country casual, a solid butcher block utility cart with wood details and cabinetry could blend in nicely. For a contemporary kitchen, consider a cart with clean, industrial-style design elements, like a stainless steel frame, a granite or marble top, dark espresso wood or open shelving.

Storage +

Kitchen carts feature drawers, cupboards and shelving that add to your kitchen storage options, allowing you to keep your space organized and efficient. Assess your storage needs before buying, and consider whether you want to hide items away or display them with open shelving. Some models come with hooks for hanging pots and pans. Others have lightweight baskets that slide in and out easily. If you need extra space for silverware, choose a kitchen cart that has drawers. Look for spacious double-door cabinets if you’re storing stockpots, skillets and small appliances. Spice racks are convenient for storing lemons, limes and everyday seasonings.

Open Shelving +

Open shelves offer quick access to pots, pans and dishes. This type of shelving is also great for showcasing your best dishes or most attractive appliances. Just be prepared to put a little extra effort into arranging the items on your shelves because you don't want your kitchen cart to appear disorganized or cluttered. Look for sturdy shelves that are wide enough to hold everything from serving platters to small appliances, and keep your essentials to the outside so they're easy to reach.

Drop Leaves +

Many kitchen carts have drop leaves for extra counter space. Simply fold them down or pull them up according to your needs and space availability. Drop leaves are handy for holding large serving platters when you’re entertaining, rolling out pizza or pasta dough, holding cookie sheets or chopping fruits and vegetables for soups. While convenient and practical, drop leaves don't provide the most stable working surface, so it’s best to perform tasks like chopping meat in the centre of the cart.

Butcher Blocks and Bread Boards +

Built-in butcher blocks and bread boards are ideal for food prep. You can use them for all of your chopping, cutting and carving needs. And when you need to cut something quickly, you can safely use your built-in bread board instead of your kitchen countertop, which might be prone to scratches. Keep in mind that to avoid cross-contamination and prevent foodborne illness, you should use a separate cutting board for cutting raw meats, poultry and seafood. If you do use your built-in butcher block for this purpose, be sure to wash it thoroughly after you're done.

Towel, Utensil and Spice Racks +

Towel bars and towel racks are a practical feature for hanging dish towels and coordinating hand towels or paper towels within easy reach of your cooking space. Utensil racks and stainless steel rails with S-hooks let you hang essential kitchen tools like ladles and spatulas for convenient storage and easy access. A spice rack will allow you to keep all your favourite seasonings at the ready for prepping salads and adding zing to your dishes.

Wheels +

While fixed kitchen islands add form and function to a space, rolling kitchen carts have the advantage of portability. Kitchen carts allow you to flexibly reconfigure your space to suit your needs. You can roll them closer to electrical outlets to operate appliances or next to the sink during food prep. And when you have company, you can wheel them out of your kitchen entirely to free up space. Look for sturdy rubber or caster wheels with locks that secure in place for extra stability.

Wine Racks +

Your everyday kitchen cart can be elevated to stylish bar cart for special occasions such as dinner parties. Built-in wine racks let you store your must-have Merlots while freeing valuable space for appetizers, cocktails, glassware and bar tools. A wine rack also lets you showcase your wine selection, while you serve cheeses, chocolates or desserts on the adjacent surface. When you have everything you need to serve your guests on one well-stocked serving cart, entertaining is easier and more enjoyable.

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Cleaning & Maintenance Tips:

  • Wipe butcher blocks after every use and reseal with mineral oil every few weeks to prevent warping and cracking
  • Clean stainless steel with a dry microfibre cloth or a soft cloth and mild dish soap regularly to prevent stains
  • Clean granite and marble surfaces regularly with warm water, mild dish soap and a soft cloth
  • Wipe and dry spills on all surfaces immediately to prevent stains
  • Granite tops must be sealed every so often, according to the manufacturer’s instructions
  • If the island has open shelves in its base, you’ll need to dust the items you store there